Whether you are planning a visit to a nearby food joint for a perfect dining experience or wish to try your hand at cooking something exotic at home, Spanish food is the way to go. With the growing popularity of Spanish cuisine, it is only natural to come across the word tapas, with many restaurants and tapas bars dedicated to the term alone.
Rather than a specific dish, Tapas primarily refers to the style of serving food. Though, this does not imply one will not find some classic dishes unique to it. Let’s have a deep look into tapas, their origin, and more.
What Is Tapas?
To ‘Tapear’ means to go for drinks and Tapas from bar to bar, something that holds great importance in the social culture of Spain, especially in southern Spain.
Everyone visiting Spain must experience the culture at least once; however, being informal, the experience may differ. Tapas is often eaten in busy bars, standing up at the bar counter, at a small table, and even outside while enjoying the view. The atmosphere in a local tapas bar is often noisy and sociable, which adds to eating tapas. What’s more, a traditional and local tapas place is known to serve the best tapas dishes one would not want to miss.
But, like every other cuisine and dish, Tapas has unique stories attached to its origin.
The Origin Of Tapas
Several stories go back to the origin of eating small snacks with the drinks
The first belief of origin goes back to the thirteenth-century Castilian king Alfonso X (the Wise). The story says the king faced an illness due to which he had to eat small portions of food or what would be called snacks with wine in between each meal to sustain his strength.
After the king recovered, he passed the law, making it mandatory for taverns to serve small dishes or food alongside beer and wine.
The second belief is based more on practical use and facts and is considered a more plausible origin. It says that bread or small plates served with olives or ham would cover drinks to keep the insects and dust out in early times. The meaning of the word ‘tapa’ being ‘lid’ in Spanish further strengthens the argument.
Now that you know what tapas is and how it originates, let’s look at some classic tapas dishes and ways to prepare them.
Patatas Bravas are nothing but chunks of fried potato topped mostly with a spicy tomato sauce. However, the dish is popular and a crowd-pleaser, something everyone, vegetarian or not, can try. Let’s see how you can make them at home.
- 2 Medium Sized Potatoes
- 1 Clove Garlic
- ½ Tbs. Pepper
- 2 Cups Olive Oil
- 1 tsp. Salt
- ¼ Cup Mayonnaise
- 1 Onion
- 1 Can Tomatoes (14 Ounce)
- ½ Tbs. Paprika
- ¼ Tbs. Chilli Powder
- Pinch of Sugar
- Slice the potatoes into wedges and cook them in water until tender. Drain and rid potatoes of water as much as possible. One can do so using a paper towel. Arrange the potatoes in a casserole dish and coat them thoroughly with olive oil. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and then bake the potatoes until crispy and golden.
- Mix a good amount of crushed or finely chopped garlic into mayonnaise along with some pepper and salt.
- In a pan, cook some chopped onions in olive oil. Then add tomato paste and sauce, garlic, chili powder, salt, paprika, and a hint of sugar to the cooked onions. Let it simmer for ten minutes, and it’s complete.
- One can add or eliminate ingredients as per taste. You can further alter the ingredient quantities as per your liking.
- You may keep the Patatas Bravas sauce ready 24 hours before serving.
Cured meats happen to be one of the most classic and loved tapas dishes, and are equally simple and easy, which just requires you to slice up an assortment of hams (jamón) and sausages (chorizo) as per your liking. You can serve it with some olive oil and baguette slices.
A classic mini sandwich or Pintox would follow toppings such as – tomato and jamón, meatballs, jamón and manchego cheese, chèvre cheese and fig jam, Spanish tortilla, smoked salmon, sardines and canned peppers, and more. However, one can always add or eliminate ingredients and make their version of the dish.
The mini sandwiches are served with toothpicks to hold them in place alongside overflowing toppings.
Other Popular Tapas Dishes
- Bacalao– Salt Cod, Fried, Breaded, Or Stewed In Tomato Sauce
- Gambas Al Ajillo– Fresh Prawns In Sizzling Olive Oil Along With Garlic And Chili Peppers.
- Cazón En Adobo– Marinated Fried Dogfish
- Ensaladilla– Potato Salad Alongside Mayonnaise With Either Tuna Or Prawns
- Espinacas Con Garbanzos– Spinach And Chickpeas With Olive Oil And Garlic
- Calamares Del Campo– Fried Onions And Peppers Or With Bread
- Revuelto– Scrambled Eggs With A Variety Of Fillings
- Jamón Iberico– Finely Sliced Salt-cured Ham
- Arroz Del Día– Meat Or Seafood Served Along With Rice Dishes Typically At Lunch Hours
Best Drinks to Compliment Your Tapas Delight
Though red wine, typically Spanish red wine is the most common drink with tapas. One can also give other Spanish beverages a try. Let’s look at two such beverages.
Tinto De Verano – In a large glass, mix equal portions of red/white wine and lemon/orange soda and serve it with ice and lemon.
Sangria – In a large bowl or pitcher, pour an entire bottle of red wine. In the wine, add chopped orange, lemon, and apple. Then mix a dash of brandy and a few tablespoons of sugar. Let the drink sit in the cold for as long as possible, preferably overnight. While serving, mix a little club or lemon soda to it and enjoy.
There are many types of tapas and recipes available. If you are looking for a new cuisine, this is the perfect item to try out first. This cuisine is easy and fun to make at home, but you must try a local tapas bar if you find yourself in Spain.